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The Kigali Amendment’s and China’s Critical Roles in Evolving the Montreal Protocol


A new article in the fall 2018 issue of Natural Resources & Environment (American Bar Association), by IGSD attorneys Xiaopu Sun and Richard Ferris, examines the Kigali Amendment’s and China’s critical roles in evolving the Montreal Protocol into a full-fledged climate treaty.

The Montreal Protocol continues to evolve beyond its traditional focus on ozone-depleting substances. The Kigali Amendment expanded the scope of the Protocol to encompass explicitly the phasedown of super greenhouse gases (GHGs) – hydro­fluorocarbons (or HFCs), even though they have only a negligible impact on the ozone layer. Parties to the Protocol can further augment climate mitigation through energy efficiency improvements to cooling equipment, reducing GHG emissions and harmful local pollutants by reducing indirect emissions from electricity generation. Phasing down HFCs has the potential to avoid up to 0.5ºC of warming by 2100. Improvements to the energy efficiency of cooling equipment could perhaps double this environmentally necessary achievement. For context, the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC highlights the significant global harms that come from 0.5ºC of added warming.

China plays a critical role in the success of the Montreal Protocol and Kigali Amendment. China is the largest historical producer of HCFCs, the largest producer of HFCs, and the largest producer of refrigerant-using equipment, specifically room air conditioners. We review China’s efforts to manage the energy efficiency of cooling equipment as this relates to China’s ability to help shape the future evolution of the Montreal Protocol. If China elects to depart from “business as usual” and pursues a leadership path that promotes super-efficient and low-GWP AC in its export markets, as it is doing at home, we can thank China for doing its part to fulfill the Montreal Protocol’s ambition and avoid global climate crises.

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